These findings come at a time of heightened controversy in wildlife management, when contentious policy is often defended by agencies claiming adherence to science-based approaches.

A new study, “Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management”, published by Science Advances , challenges a widespread assumption that wildlife management in North America is science-based.

Scientists from Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison examined management documents relating to most hunted species across Canada and the USA. They found the key hallmarks of science often missing.

The research identifies four key hallmarks expected of science-based management:

  1. clear objectives,
  2. use of evidence,
  3. transparency, and
  4. external review.

Combined, these hallmarks provide the checks and balances that give rigour to science-based approaches. Using this framework, the research team assessed all publicly-available documents describing 667 hunt management systems (species-jurisdictions, for example “Moose in Alaska” and “Deer in British Columbia”). These included 27 species groups across 62 US and Canadian states and provinces.

The study found that most systems (60%) contained fewer than half of the indicator criteria assessed. Some of the most basic assumptions of a scientific approach were almost entirely absent from wildlife management documents.

This post from Raincoast Conservation Foundation
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